Whew! I finally got Japan out of my system and can focus on things Western.
Thanksgiving passed uneventfully at our place, with a meal quite similar to last year's. But with one difference that I must comment on: the turkey.
At the recommendation of my friend John, I ordered this year's turkey from Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, proprietor Frank Reece. Reece is believed by many to produce the best heritage turkeys available on the market.
Here is Reece's mission statement:
Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch strives to produce historically authentic Heritage Poultry, grown free range, vegetarian fed without antibiotics for your quality dining. Our objective is to protect APA approved Standard-Bred Poultry. We believe that the best way to do this is by returning them to your dining table.
The turkey we had was a great reflection of this mission. It was shaped like a bird that could fly (and indeed it could), long and lean without the huge breasts for which most American turkeys are bred. The white meat was flavorful and moist, the dark dense and deliciously pungent.
Here is how I cooked it:
The 15-lb turkey arrived on Wednesday at 3:00 PM (late enough to scare me), cold but not quite frozen. I generously salted it under the skin and in the cavity. On Thanksgiving day, I rinsed it a bit, then put it breast side down over ice packs. Just before cooking, I dried it and rubbed it with olive oil and Michael Chiarello's fennel spice rub. Cooked on a V-rack 45 minutes breast side down at 450, then turned and cooked at 325-350 for 1 hour 45 minutes. The breast was perfectly cooked and the bird a magnificent even mahogany color. The joints were tight and it was hard to separate the thigh/leg quarters, which usually fall away of their own weight; I had to really push hard to snap the joints. But the meat was done, and ready for a 45-minute rest.
The cost of this turkey, including shipping, was $160. Really expensive compared to a local supermarket or even a good butcher, but it was definitely worth the price.